After months of rumors, Facebook has stepped into the online video world with Watch. That said, it’s something of a confusing launch, so here’s a look at Watch, what Facebook wants it to do, and what it means for your average Facebook user who just wants adorable dog videos.
Watch is, ultimately, Facebook’s attempt to fight YouTube. It’s made up of two parts: the Watch end of things, where people get to see the video, and Shows, which Facebook is curating for now but intends, long term, to open up to everybody. The idea is that Shows will be consistent pieces in an arc, like a set of cooking videos, a daily vlog, or cat videos. Think of them as video playlists, and yes, Facebook will be paying people for their videos. It’s also paying for content, like weekly pro baseball games and Mike Rowe’s new show, to lure people into watching.
Watch, the viewer end of things, is slowly being rolled out to all Facebook users, but it should be on the site completely within a few months. In practical terms, this means that the “video” tab on your Facebook feed will be a bit more organized and focused on the stuff you actually want to watch, instead of just stumble over randomly in your feed. If you like the videos your friends are sharing, you’ll be able to follow them in a more orderly fashion.
For video producers, and their fans, this is good news; if Facebook is paying for meaningful views, that means you’ll get more videos. But while the reorganization and clarity on the Video page is definitely welcome, it’s tough to find a particular advantage for Watch over YouTube, and that’s what Facebook needs here. Facebook has struggled with video in the past, with products like Facebook Live finding a niche but also not being the industry-changing hit the company was clearly hoping for, and it’s not clear what Watch brings to the table.
Still, if it means a cleaner Facebook page, that’s a plus. Now, about those cat videos…
(via the Washington Post)